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People are People

“Oh, Fletch, you don't love that! You don't love hatred and evil, of course. You have to practice and see the real gull, the good in every one of them…that’s what I mean by love. It's fun, when you get the knack of it.” – Richard Bach


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My dad is from Boston and comes with all the skepticism and scruff that is implied in that statement. He often has said “people are people” and “I’m not a pessimist, I’m a realist”. I always took those statements in a negative way, but I think I now completely understand what he is saying.
It is not a negative judgment of character or life as I used to believe. Instead, it is taking the ego out of interpretation and just accepting people for how they are. It is hard for me to describe, but it is almost like an unconditional love or acceptance for the way people are, and their own autonomy and interconnectedness. It’s like when Jonathan Livingston Seagull is explaining his love for the other seagulls to Fletch, despite them treating him so horribly. He states:
“Oh, Fletch, you don't love that! You don't love hatred and evil, of course. You have to practice and see the real gull, the good in every one of them…that’s what I mean by love. It's fun, when you get the knack of it.” – Richard Bach

Travelling as a single gringa in South America has helped me to understand what my dad and Jonathan mean. I have met the most WONDERFUL people. I have also met some not so wonderful people. But I think I have found this love they speak of. The challenge for me is to take people how they are and not to expect them to act a certain way. Once I take my own ego or expectation out of situations, it becomes fun.

On a daily basis, during just about every interaction with strangers, I feel as if they are trying to take money from me. When I went to the pharmacy, the attendant rang up my iron pills and told me they were “$12.50”. This is the equivalent to two days wages for Ecuadorians. Rest assured, that was not the actual price. The one time I didn’t settle a price before getting in a cab, he charged me 4 times what it should have been. Another time, a taxi driver drove around and couldn’t find my hostel, dropped me off at the police station, than tried to charge me 5 times as much as we had agreed on because he said he drove around too much. I have been given less change, been given false information, and been glared at often. I have heard of people’s wallets being taken off buses, at knife point and by children.

It is a weird thing to say, and I might not feel this way if something really bad happens to me, but there is a satisfaction I am beginning to feel about this challenge of wits. I have never been a very assertive person, but I am practicing daily and am finding each interaction more and more satisfying.

Yesterday I got a ride from a cute old grandpa to the bus station. In the back seat was his adorable 4 year old granddaughter. He humored me as I attempted to keep the conversation going in Spanish about the churches, my teaching career, what I was doing down in South America, etc. He told me a bit about the Catholic buildings and pointed his out. He laughed and helped me to say what I wanted in correct Spanish. When we got to the bus station I handed him a $5 for the $2 ride. Oh no! He pulled open the glove box and showed me the one dollar coin he had in there. I told him “lo siento” but that I did not have any change. He called out the closed window to someone and looked around flustered. He kept pointing to his one dollar coin. When it became clear to him that I was going to sit and wait for my change, he suddenly found a pocket full and handed it over. “Muchos gracias!” I said and exited the taxi.

I had won this challenge of wits! I held my ground and stuck to the facts of the situation. I needed my change!

I don’t blame him or anyone else for trying. $3 for me and $3 for him do mean extremely different things. He is right to think that the $3 doesn’t impact my life as much as it would for him. If I were to take each interaction as an insult or personal attack, I would not leave my hostel bunk bed. Bartering is an integral part of the culture, and as a gringa I have to defend my side of the deal more heavily than most. I still think that he was a cute old grandpa, but I also am starting to remember that “people are people”. He can both be a cute old grandpa and someone trying to take my money, and I actually kind of love him for both!

I have met some of the most hospitable people along my way as well. Truly, some of the sweetest and friendly people I could imagine. When my bike chain fell off and became unfixable (as I pushed the broken monster up a mountain from my nightmares) 4 construction workers attempted to tie my broken bike to the back of a motorcycle (with rope) and cart me and the bicycle up hill. When that didn’t work, a couple in a truck stopped for me, put my bicycle in the back and handed me baby-wipes to wipe the grease off my hands from the broken chain. People have attempted to explain things to me using gestures and simplified Spanish, and have offered me to join them when I am just a homeless looking stranger on the streets. These people are everywhere, but I am starting to find that it is the mixture of the types that make life so fun. ;)

Posted by misskailyn 11:42 Archived in Ecuador Tagged people culture bartering

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Love you and love this! So proud of you mi Amiga!!!

by Katey Rad

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